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Royal British Legion and the poppy

 
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bbloke
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Joined: 13 Feb 2012
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 9:53 am    Post subject: Royal British Legion and the poppy Reply with quote

Here's a very sticky subject!

I've been selling various remembrance badges over the last few years, giving the profits to Help For Heroes and the Royal British Legion. I've probably raised a few hundred pounds. It's not much but it all helps, I guess.

It's a cause that is important to me as my grandfather was killed in action. My grandmother had little support and my mother was brought up in desperate poverty.

Someone recently suggested that my badges infringe the copyright and trademarks of RBL, as some of my badges have a poppy design.

The designs are all created by myself, so I'm not sure how they can be a copyright issue.

I checked on the IPO database and RBL have trademarked the word 'poppy' across a wide variety of products, not just their logo.

What does this mean? I have lots of items in my house that have poppies on them; curtains, tea-towels, bedding, storage tins etc. Are all these items theoretically infringing RBL trademark too?

It seems very odd to be able to trademark a single word, especially one that just describes a naturally occurring flower.

Any clarification much appreciated as I feel in a bit of a moral quandary as what to do. A brief search on google has brought up stories of people being harassed by RBL after painting and knitting poppies for fund raising. I don't want the same thing to happen to me.
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AndyJ
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Joined: 29 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi bbloke,
The Royal British Legion do have a number of registered trade marks, both for the UK and EU, although only a minority refer to either the word 'Poppy' or to an image of a poppy such as this one:
Where the word has been registered, for example in Class 33, Alcoholic beverages (except beers), then it would be unwise to start selling a cider named Poppy, but it certainly wouldn't be a problem selling tea-towels with poppies on them, unless the poppy in question looked more like the image above, rather than the botanical specimen.
But the minute you start associating your products bearing images of poppies with raising money for either Help for Heroes or the Royal British Legion you run into problems over passing off. This is for very obvious reasons. If anyone could go into a pub with a collecting tin saying they were collecting for the RBL, and then pocketing either the entire proceeds or a substantial part of them, this would be defrauding the RBL by trading on their goodwill. Given the emotional overtones involved I think a court would find it easy to accept that misrepresentation had occurred where such activity was not conducted under the auspices of the RBL.
Clearly the RBL and Help for Heroes wish to protect their good name and so they are likely to pursue anyone they think is in danger of subverting their goodwill.
On that basis I suggest you try working with the RBL as a licensee, rather than try to go it alone, however well-intentioned your motives.
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Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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bbloke
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Joined: 13 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi AndyJ,

Thanks for your reply and advice!
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